The folks over at Eyes On The Prize, SB Nation's Montreal Canadiens community, have a real treat in European writer Zeb, who keeps tabs on all the major prospects across Europe and on occasionally provides fellow SBN sites with translations of interviews and information for pertinent prospects.
With the Anaheim Ducks' recent success in drafting Swedish defenseman, it was no surprise that Frölunda's Jacob Larsson became the most recent this past season. Larsson has had a successful start to a campaign with the club, and sat down with 'Frölunda Podden' to talk about the season:
Interviewer (I): Frölunda Podden is back, and todays guest is Jacob Larsson, as he is the profile of the game against Luleå (played yesterday, Nov. 24, a 4-3 Frölunda win). Hello and welcome Jacob!
Jacob Larsson (JL): Thanks!
I: Did you know that you have already played as many matches in SHL this season as you did last season?
JL. No I hadn't thought about that, but it has been fun, I have gotten to play all matches from start. It has been really fun!
I: It has happened a lot in a short time hasn't it?
JL: Yes, I had a bit of luck last year. Some guys went over to the US so there were openings on the roster for the A-team, and we got to practice with them; then I played over 100 minutes and got my rookie contract. It's just fun!
I: Because it has really gone well?
JL: Yes there is no denying that, and it's great being able to be part of it and play with the big boys.
I: You are only 18 years old but you are without a doubt a regular in Frölunda's A-team. At this time last year could you even dream about this?
JL: Nope I couldn't, even if I didn't have one SHL game last year at this time there wasn't a chance that I thought this would happen. My thoughts were to focus on the J-20 (Under-20's) and all that was happening with them.
I: So how did you make this happen, are you an extreme talent or have you worked extremely hard, or is it both things combined?
JL: It's a bit of both, but of course I have worked hard, especially during the summer we had a lot of preseason training in order to build up our physique. I did extra training as well. But it's great fun to be here.
I: But the truth is that you have added a few kilos during the summer.
JL: Yes I have. I have become a bit heavier and a bit stronger and built up a toughness in my body. It's a few kilos extra there now.
I: How many kilos?
JL: 3-4 kilos anyway.
I: Has that been necessary to have this development curve?
JL: Yes, I was just thin last season; I felt it that it was a bit difficult in the physical battles but now that I am a bit heavier I handle these things much better. So it was necessary.
I: With the hand over your heart, do you feel like an SHL player or do you feel like a junior still?
JL: (draws out the answer a bit) It's a difficult question, but I feel more like an SHL player. I have played all games, so I have to say that. (It sounds like he is really embarrassed about this)
I: In some ways you are still considered a junior though? Picking up pucks...
JL: (breaks in) yes I get to pick up the pucks and count everyone in for the ride, clean the dressing room and all those things. But you can take that, its okay.
I: How come you are the guy counting in everyone at the bus?
JL: I am the youngest so it falls to me to do it.
I: So it's your responsibility?
JL: Yes, and if I don't do it I get a fine (he laughs)
I: So you are picking up the pucks, counting in at the buss, what other junior things are on your plate?
JL: I have to clean up the dressing room after the match, and I help Håkan and "The Wolf" to load up after away games, and load in everything when we get into the arena as well. We, Anton Karlsson (2014 Arizona pick) and I, are also in charge of the fines that are written up. It's all a bit new, it used to be the old guys, but now it's on me and Anton to do that.
I: Do you really have the authority to collect the money?
JL: I have to say Anton is better than me at that part of the job, but we have gotten in some of it at least.
I: What are your own plans in regards to this season? What do you want to achieve?
JL: My goal was to take a regular spot on the team, and now I get to play the WJC over Christmas. I have had the chance to start all games and it's great, but I have to continue to work as we have plenty of defensemen and all want to play. It's all hard work.
I: WJC is a big and open goal for you?
I: How do you view your own chances of making that team?
JL: There are so many good defenders, so many good 96's and 97's (year of birth). If I play well here in the end before the team gets nominated I am in with a chance to play.
I: During the summer you went to Florida and the NHL draft.
I: How was that?
JL: It was a huge/monumental experience, it was.... I don't remember much to be honest, it went all so fast. But... It was huge, and I was drafted by Anaheim and I am very proud of that.
I: Were there a lot of meetings in hotels with agents and clubs that you see in movies, sport movies?
JL: it was a few, before the draft I think I had three. I had to go to a hotel and do some tests and talk a bit, sure it's a bit like that but I also think its even more for them being drafted higher.
I: Did you know before the draft which team would draft you?
JL: NO! I had no idea.
I: Were you surprised you got drafted n the first round?
JL: No, not really. I was late first rounder or an early second rounder, you were obviously hoping for a first round. You get a bit shocked hearing your name.
I: It is special to go in the first round.
JL: Yes, but you still have to live up and preform to that (level) afterwards, otherwise it doesn't matter.
I: But its not a question if you are going over, it's a question of when. And with being drafted in the first round it comes with some expectations right?
JL: True, but so does the first over all pick as well, but we all have to live up to the promise. It's just to give it your all and have fun.
I: How much do Anaheim and you talk about your future?
JL: Not much at all, it seems they trust Frölunda, they know Frölunda is a good club and I am developing a lot here, good coaches, I have all the requirements to play, develop and succeed here. So they are trusting Frölunda with that.(Be sure to read Zeb's article about the symbiosis between the NHL and SHL through the transfer agreement)
I: What do you think about it?
JL: I have two years left on my contract, I want to go over but I love to play here and an extra year wouldn't hurt me I like it here.
I: When you are on Twitter and your Twitter in general, you can get the idea that you are very interested in sports, not only hockey. Have I got that right?
JL: I like all kind of sports, that is fun. I like tennis and Football (European kind) but tennis is probably the one I like most after hockey. It's great going to the tennis tournament in Båstad during summer and to watch Wimbledon on TV. It's really fun (to watch).
I: Is it due to the fact you played tennis yourself?
JL: Nope it just has happened. We used to play for fun and we still play when I go home for the summer, but I like it, it's fun to watch. I think football can be a bit "slow" and boring when all they do is pass the ball around. It is more things happening in tennis.
I: So if it wasn't hockey it could have been tennis?
JL: That's possible. You never know.
I: Do you still play?
JL: With friends, during summer.
I: But not within the team now?
JL: I haven't, but I know some of the others do.
I: You guys should have a tournament and declare a champion, I know Joel (Lundqvist - Henrik's brother) plays a bit of tennis as an example.
JL: Yeah he probably plays with Hank. But we should really have a tournament and a winner within the team, that would be great fun.
I: When Sweden qualified for the Euros in football, you wrote "France - See you in the summer!" are you going down to France for the tournament?
JL: Yes, Christoffer Ehn (Detroit prospect) and I have said we will go if they qualified, we have to live up to that promise now.
I: Do you know when the tickets go for sale?
JL: No.... I don't really know, but the tournament is 10 June to 10 July right? So we will check it out. Hopefully we will go.
I: I can tell you that the tickets go for sale on the 14 of December at the Swedish football associations website, I think you might have to be ready then.
JL: Okay, that will be a morning in front of the computer.
I: Tomorrow Tuesday we will play Luleå in Scandinavium, what do you think about that game?
JL: It will be a good game, with a lot of speed, there are always good games vs Luleå. They work hard they have some great skilful players we have to be on top of our game. It will be good.
I: And within two weeks you will play Luleå four times, two times in SHL two times in the quarterfinal of CHL (Champions Hockey League). How is it when you play the same team so many times in such a short period of time?
JL: It becomes something extra, some extra feelings, you remember the previous games. It will probably turn out to be some playoff hockey between us. We played them in the playoffs last season (Frölunda won the series 4-3) It will be great games.
I: And you think this feeling and temperament will be visible already tomorrow?
JL: I believe so yes.
I: Do you think there are lingering things between the teams after last years CHL final and the tough SHL playoff games?
JL: Obviously! I haven't played them that much but there are always feelings and a bit of a extra intensity when playing Luleå. But that's just fun, it becomes a better game of ice hockey with that more passion, etc.
I: That two guys from Ljungby play on the same SHL team that's a bit interesting, I am talking about you and Oscar Fanteberg, that's special.
JL: Its even more funny that I had him as a hockey coach once up on a time, when I was in Troja for the hockey school. I have known him for so long so it's great to be in the same team.
I: He wanted me to ask that question "How was it to have Oscar as a coach in ice hockey?"
JL: Haha! He was good, it was fun, he gave me a lot of sticks, he was a good coach. He was also someone I looked up to, he is a good guy!
I: When Oscar was here, he mentioned that there is a lot of talk with in the hockey circle in Ljungby that you two are playing here. Is that something you know of as well?
JL: Of course, there is not much else going on in Ljungby and the fact that we used to play with each other as well, and now we are in the same team, of course that's cool. So there is bound to be some talk.
I: I have two final questions, I don't know what this is all about, I have gotten them from somewhere. You got to take it for what it is: You have strengthen your lock at home with a fork, can you describe how and why?
JL: That's not true, I was going to show that you could do a lock out of a fork, I showed the guys how to do it, it works so it's good.
I: Is that something you have come up with yourself?
JL: Nah I saw it on Facebook or somewhere?
I: Have you installed a lock like that at home?
JL: Nah, I gave it to the other guys in the team.
I: Last question: How did WW2 start?
JL: Hahaha! Well, this is something... Well it was things going on in Germany at that time. But here are many theories, conspiracy theories. Illuminati might have wanted it to start as well. That's a funny question!
I: I have heard you are a CT guy!
JL: A bit.
I: And Illuminati in particular?
JL: Yea, it's fun to dig into that kind of stuff.
I: Why? You don't even know if they exist?
JL: But that's what makes it fun! It says they are behind a lot of things, it's interesting. They are secret, as you don't know if they exist that makes it interesting. Scary too.
Big thanks to Zeb for the translation, who is on Twitter @Zeb_Habs and a great follow to keep abreast of action across the European leagues. Be sure to check out Eyes On The Prize as well for Canadiens coverage, @HabsEOTP.